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“The Watsons Go To Birmingham,” an original movie directed by Atlanta’s Kenny Leon premieres on the “Walmart and P&G present Walden Family Theater”
on Friday, Sept. 20 at 8 p.m.

The movie, filmed here in the Atlanta area earlier this year, stars Anika Noni Rose, Wood Harris, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Bryce Clyde Jenkins, Harrison Knight, Skai Jackson, David Alan Grier and Pauletta Washington.

The movie was adapted from the book, The Watsons Go To Birmingham 1963, that earned author Christopher Paul Curtis the prestigious 1996 Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Honor Award. It tells the fictional story of an African American family from Flint, Michigan who found their lives forever changed during a road trip to Birmingham, Alabama in the Summer of ’63.

The film received a special screening at the Alabama Theater in Birmingham on Sept. 12 as part of a week-long series of events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church that killed four young girls and wounded several other church members.

Following the screening, Birmingham Mayor William A. Bell Sr. moderated a panel including one of the film’s producers Tonya Lewis Lee, Leon, Curtis, Jeffrey Wright, CEO of Urban Ministries Inc., Robert Selman, who developed a study guide about the film for students, and a Walmart executive, who said the film will be available on DVD 10 days after the movie airs on Hallmark.

The panel discussed the importance of the film, which highlights an event that changed not only the lives the church members, but the rest of the country. This bombing, only three weeks after the historic March on Washington, led to the eventual passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

The Watson family serves as the prism through which the audience views a moment of revolutionary change in America, Walden Media officials said. Walden Media has also prepared an educator’s resource guide for use in schools. It is a free download and can be found at

(Photo: 1. Stars of “The Watsons Go To Birmingham” including David Alan Grier (back from left), Anika Noni Rose, Harrison Knight , Wood Harris, Skai Jackson and Bryce Clyde Jenkins. 2. Panel members include ‘The Watsons Go To Birmingham” author Christopher Paul Curtis, Producer Tonya Lewis Lee, Birmingham Mayor William A. Bell Sr., Director Kenny Leon, Education Consultant Robert Selman, Urban Ministries CEO Jeffrey Wright and Walmart Executive Sharonda L. Britton.)

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